Kotaku was my first job out of college. I lived and breathed this site for nearly six years. I grew up here. Kotaku changed my life.
It all feels so happenstance when I look back on it. In 2011, I emailed Kotaku out of the blue asking if the site would like to republish something I had written elsewhere. I didn’t get a response for months, kind of assumed that nothing was going to happen and that was that. Eventually, though, I did get a response. I was thrilled: I mean, I was still in school. Kotaku was the place I went to when I wasn’t paying attention in class. I must have refreshed the page dozens of times a day back then. When we kept talking and I kept getting more opportunities to put my stuff on Kotaku, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like a nobody, but I was still given a chance.
When I got hired full-time, I was hungry to take everything on. Games journalism was different back then, more tech-focused. I came in wondering about people, wondering about issues, wondering about the players themselves. I pushed for personality-based coverage. I pushed to cover the sensitive things we all experienced in games but seemingly nobody talked about. I pushed to cover the strange ways people played games, and the subcultures that gaming inspired. I pushed for writing about things that mattered—and things that didn’t, because hey, this is video games. Let’s have some fun here, because otherwise, what’s the point? All of this is normal now, expected even, but I still remember the uncertainty of it all at the time. I never knew if these things would have an audience. I feel so fortunate that they did.
I went on to take a more behind-the-scenes role here at Kotaku during my last couple of years, putting more of my energy into building a great team and continuing to expand the ways we tackled video game culture. I look at what I’ve helped put together and feel such a sense of pride: nobody does it like Kotaku. This will always be true. I’d like to think I left some sort of mark on this place, although more than anything, it left its mark on me.
I’m proud of my legacy here, though it has been fraught at times. I’ve never really spoken about this publicly, but if you follow my work or read Kotaku at all then you probably know about the events of 2014. It’s hard to talk about—the harassment and controversy nearly broke me. I remember the demands for apologies, or for resignation. I felt so angry at the time, betrayed by circumstance of online writing. The beautiful thing was that getting my shot at a professional career here didn’t require having a specific degree, but the downside was that I didn’t know everything I needed to about reporting. I ended up learning on the job, some would say the hard way.
After things unfolded, I just strove to to be more ambitious, to pour myself into my work, to kick ass and prove there was a reason I was here. The years that came afterward were some of my hardest here, but also a time when I produced some of my best writing.
Don’t get it twisted, though: while I reflect back and recognise any missteps, I also know the controversy was all a part of a twisted campaign that didn’t want people like me to stick around. Fuck that. Instead of fading away, I became undeniable.
Mostly, though, when I look back at my time here I’m amazed at all the things we got on the page. I’m lucky to have found a home at Kotaku. More than that, a family. I found my voice here, basically became an adult here. It still seems unbelievable that any of this happened, because if you scroll back far enough on my first commenting handle, you’ll see me bitching out the site for some thing. Thanks for not holding that against me, Stephen. (Please don’t look it up, though!!)
I’m going to miss writing endlessly about Pokémon, Fallout, and Fortnite here. I’m going to miss my incredibly talented coworkers who inspire me day in and day out. I’m going to miss the hilarious commenters—yes, even the ones who always ask what a post has to do with video games. I’m going to miss the Kotaku fish. I’m going to miss Kinja randomly failing me in the middle of a breaking news post. Okay, maybe not that.
For those of you who want to continue following my work, worry not: I’m going to keep writing about games. Games won’t be my primary focus, though. I’m going to expand into the wider world of pop culture, internet culture, and sex. There’s a whole world waiting for me out there, and I’m excited to explore it. If you want to take this journey with me, follow me on Twitter, where I’ll be talking more about where I’m going next.
Thanks for everything, Kotaku.